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Twitter signals shift away from social commerce as it disbands 'buy' button team

Twitter has “curtailed” product development on its ‘buy’ button and product pages, which were designed to encourage users to shop on the platform, according to sources familiar with the matter.

As part of the changes several of the social network’s 25-strong commerce team have departed. Remaining staff, meanwhile, have been reassigned to other parts of the business such as customer service or dynamic product ads, according to a report from BuzzFeed news.

Introduced in 2014, Twitter’s buy button was intended to let brands, artists and non-profit organisations sell goods within tweets. The product pages, known as Collections, were launched last year, giving advertisers and high profile users the ability to curate a handful of recommended products and places for their fans to browse or purchase.

The move to stop investing team efforts in the products shows recently-reinstated chief executive Jack Dorsey’s desire to focus on Twitter’s core product – to which he announced some changes earlier this week. It also calls into question the growth of social commerce, which has been much-hyped by Facebook and Pinterest, who also introduced in-app buy options earlier this year.

“People are not buying on social media right now. They are still buying, for the most part, on mobile web,” a source familiar with Twitter’s commerce team’s inner workings told BuzzFeed News. Another source confirmed that Dorsey is keen to streamline Twitter before diving into other projects, noting: “The innovative, experimental ‘could, should, might happen in a year or two years’ stuff is completely shut down at Twitter.”

While the buy button is still active for the time being, Twitter said in a statement that it made the changes three months ago to “increase” its investment in e-commerce by “moving fully into dynamic product ads.” This format lets brands serve promoted tweets to users based on what products they’ve recently viewed on an advertiser’s website; a format that appears to be more natural in users’ timelines and something insiders have said is working well for the platform.